By Ken Ritter
LAS VEGAS — An enrolled tribe member has been charged with murder in the death of a 3-year-old girl on the Ely Shoshone Indian Reservation in northeastern Nevada, federal officials announced Tuesday.
Colon Jackson, 28, of Ely, was arrested last Friday and remained in federal custody pending a detention hearing Thursday in U.S. District Court in Reno, U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich said.
Jail and court records did not say if Jackson had an attorney who could be reached on his behalf. He could face up to life in federal prison if he’s convicted.
The FBI investigates serious crimes on Native American reservations including murder, child abuse, assaults, drug trafficking and public corruption.
Jackson’s indictment said the child died Jan. 9 in Ely. The child was identified by initials in the indictment.
Trutanich said she died of head injuries caused by Jackson, and also had a fractured spine and other injuries.
Trutanich and Ray Johnson, assistant FBI special agent in charge in Nevada, provided few details about the death, declined to identify the child’s mother and would not describe Jackson’s relationship to the woman or the child. The officials cited privacy reasons.
However, Trutanich alleged that Jackson had harmed the girl previously in what authorities described as domestic violence.
The Ely Times identified the mother as Maria Bliss and her daughter as Alyahana Bliss. The newspaper said the girl died at a Salt Lake City hospital.
Maria Bliss pleaded guilty in April to felony child neglect or endangerment in a plea deal that requires her to testify against Jackson, the newspaper reported.
Bliss could get probation in her case. She admitted leaving Alyahana in the care of Jackson, whom she was dating at the time.
Trutanich said the prosecution showed government efforts to stem crimes on tribal land in Nevada.
“Violent crime on tribal land has reached a fever pitch throughout the United States, including in Nevada,” he told reporters. “Murder is the third leading cause of death for indigenous women.”
Last year, a U.S. Justice Department report showed that federal prosecutors nationwide declined to prosecute more than one-third of Indian Country criminal cases in 2017.
The report followed an inspector general’s critical analysis of reservation prosecution rates, and came amid heightened concerns in Congress and tribal communities about Native American women being disproportionately victimized by sexual assault and domestic violence.